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Old November 7th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #1
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External hard drive non-responsive after formatting

I wanted to give the drive another destination, so I erased everything on it, then I formatted it on a PC. I did not use any "format option" (quick format or compression). Formatting seemed to go OK, but right after that the drive became non-responsive: if I attach it to any PC, the green light turns red in cycles (normally a sign it's reading/writing) but Windows Explorer will not show the drive. It is spinning like before, and I hear some clicking... but that's it.

It's a 120GB 2.5 inch external Toshiba laptop drive in a small enclosure, USB-powered (no separate power needed).

Any idea what went wrong? Is it just a coincidence (died at the time of formatting) or I did something wrong?

Thank you,
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Old November 8th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #2
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IF you right click on computer and go to "manage, storage, disk management" does it appear on the hard drive list? You may need to create a partition to make it visible to explorer.

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Old November 8th, 2009, 12:19 PM   #3
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I second Ron's approach - the drive can be physically there, but you've got to make Winders aware it's there before you can do anything with it! IIRC it has to have a bit of code written to the drive (MBR?) after formatting to set up partitions.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 07:42 PM   #4
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Well... I thought defragmenting will take care of all that and will make the drive ready to use.

If I go to disk management and then connect the drive, it never shows up in the drive list.

If I connect the drive first then try going to disk management... I never get anywhere. When I right click on "My Computer" - I get the forever hour glass and that's it.

I even tried Partition Magic, same thing. I guess it Wndeez can't see it, no one else can.

Probably time to head to the computer store...

Edit: after 5 minutes "Computer management" shows up, but when I click "Disk Management", I get the AT&T message "Connecting... please wait"...

Edit 2: after 10 minutes it showed up! Yupee!

Where do I go from here? Drive C shows NTFS for file system, another drive on this PC (used for storage) shows also NTFS - but the drive in question shows nothing.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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Right click on the drive and choose "Initialize..."

EDIT: Check that. Depending on your OS and the state of the drive, you might have to select "Mark Partition as Active..." This would be down below in the lower panel, possibly on the right.

Last edited by Adam Gold; November 8th, 2009 at 08:39 PM.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #6
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Ervin, there is a difference between defragmenting and formatting. Defragmenting places file fragments together so that the file will load faster etc. Formatting completely cleans off the drive of everything and sets the file system. It then needs to be made an active partition to be available to Windows( or any other operating system).

Your response is far to slow in getting to management. It should be almost instantaneous. So you have some other problems. Yes the drive will have to be powered up before you try to manage it otherwise the OS can't see it. Drives that are OK will appear as " Healthy" If the drive is there but blanked out you will need to right click and set active, primary partition.

Just to make sure you are doing it correctly. What operating system are you using? Then I can give more detailed instructions. The "AT&T message "Connecting... please wait"...really puzzles me. Are you sure you didn't right click on " My Network" rather than " My Computer" and try to map drives?

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Old November 8th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #7
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It's all sorted out

Thank you Ron, that was a typo - I meant formatting, not defragmenting.

It's all sorted out. When you said "partitioning", my old and slow (aka mind) clicked and I remembered an old piece of software I used years ago, called Partition Magic. So I loaded that, and indeed the partition on the drive was MBR (Master Boot Record) instead of NTFS. I created a new partition (the whole drive), deleted everything else, and it's all well now.

And while there I took care of another issue: the drive letter. I assigned X, so from now on, no matter what PC I connect this drive to, it will always show up as drive X. It was driving me crazy to look for files... now it was drive E, now it was drive F/G/H, depending on the order I was connecting my external drives.

I am on XP, by the way... and I still think Windooze should have made that partition automatically. I reformatted several drives over the years and never had this issues.

Thanks again to everyone contributing!
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Old November 9th, 2009, 05:19 AM   #8
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Glas you got it sorted, FWIW, Wimdows 7 still has to be set up the same way - ran into it when adding a pair of 1TB drives... I'm still trying to figure out why all the file names are in blue instead of black...
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Old November 9th, 2009, 06:13 AM   #9
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Hmmm... good question, Dave. I've also seen that and wondered sometimes, but never had the time to figure out why.

So this morning I did a little Googling and here is your answer: they are compressed. They got that way when you ran the disk cleanup utility and choose to compress old or rarely used files.

It's an option, and if you don't like it, you can turn it off by going to Windows Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > View > Advanced > Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 07:54 AM   #10
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Glad you got it sorted out. I have PC's with Win2000, XP and Vista and for me the XP machine is the worst. It's a pain to get permissions sorted out so that I can transfer files between PC's. I have pretty much given up and move files to Public folder for transfer and will certainly move this PC to Win 7 shortly. With all the fancy visuals turned off I like Vista the best. I have it set up as close as possible to Win 2000.
All of them deal with formating the same way. Vista doesn't have a good defrag so I have a seperate program that runs in the background.

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Old November 9th, 2009, 08:37 AM   #11
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Well... yes, the drive is working fine, but the drive letter is probably only working on the PC I did the Partition Magic setup... on this computer at work it still shows as drive E...

Ron, what is the defrag program you're running in the background? Is it something running only when the drive or the whole PC is idle?
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Old November 9th, 2009, 09:44 AM   #12
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Drive letters are assigned to the interface not what is connected. So what ever you plug into that port is drive X in your case. That is why it is also useful to name the drive, which is kept on the drive. As you move it to different PC's the drive letter will change but the name will stay.
The program I use is called Diskeeper ( Defrag Automatically to Maximize Computer Performance and Reliability) and works in the background when system resources are idle. It can be switched on or off for each drive as needed. I have mine set for internal drives but not external ones. Then they can be stopped and removed otherwise Windows will not let the drive be stopped and removed. When I want to defrag I turn the drive on and let run for a while.

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Old January 15th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #13
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I hope you don't mind if I piggyback... but it seems as if there's some good advice on the thread and maybe you're subscribed.

On my PC XP editing laptop (Novatech Intel Core2Duo) any external disk I plug in, whether by USB or eSATA has the same result:

Computer management reports it as 'healthy', with all the right-click options greyed out. The volume is empty (ie no drive letter assigned)
Layout: partition
Type: Basic
File system: this is empty
Status: healthy

Then it correctly reports the capacity, but very incorrectly reports the drive as 100% free (which gave me a heartstopping moment until I checked on my Mac)

Right click only allows me to 'delete partitiion' which I'm not about to do. I don't want to re-format as these are drives with a lot of material on, and which are perfectly healthy.

Any thoughts / suggestions gratefully received.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 06:13 PM   #14
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What format type is the drive, e.g. FAT, FAT32, NTFS... other?

The only type that works in both a Mac and a PC is FAT32.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 06:19 PM   #15
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The drives are supposed to be NTFS. One registers as RAW the other as nothing. I don't have the option to reformat them. Both drives register fine with my Mac. I tested one on a Windows 7 computer and that had similar behaviour - recognised the drive (in terms of whirring and triggering the 'safe to remove' routine) but not accessible through Explorer.

NTFS does work in Mac if you add a nifty little application called Paragon NTFS, which enables the Mac to recognise and work with NTFS.
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